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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Robin Wood on Claire Denis: come with me and we'll play a game

Elder cricket Robin Wood makes a rare apparition in Film International, contributing an essay on the work of Claire Denis, in a piece called “Only (Dis)Connect; and Never Relaxez-Vous.” Here’s Wood’s keen, apt way of describing how her films work: “It is a part of her great distinction that her films (and especially I Can’t Sleep, arguably her masterpiece to date) demand intense and continuous mental activity from the spectator: 2245a.jpg we are not to miss a single detail or to pass over a gesture or facial expression, even if it is shown in long shot within an ensemble, with no ‘helpful’ underlining and no ‘spelling out’ in dialogue. It is the particular distinction of Denis’ cinema that sets it apart from—almost, indeed, in opposition to—the work of many of our most celebrated ‘arthouse’ directors: Bergman, for example, or Fellini or Antonioni. Their films are rooted in autobiography—not necessarily in any literal sense, but in terms of personal introspection—whereas Denis left autobiography behind with Chocolat, and even that film is notable for its poise and critical distance, its objectivity. Where Bergman or Fellini seems to be saying to us ‘Come with me and I’ll tell you my secrets, share my experiences—how I feel about things, my thoughts about existence’, precise_3457.jpgDenis issues a very different invitation to the spectator: ‘Come with me and we’ll play a game, albeit a serious one. Let’s see how much you can notice in what I decide to show you, how you interpret what you see and hear, what connections you can make, how much can be explained and how much remains mysterious and uncertain, as so much in our lives remains unclear. I’ll allow you a certain leeway of interpretation, because I don’t always understand everything myself, not even my own creations, though I’ll be as precise as possible…’ [Via GreenCine.]

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